Braves part ways with pitching coach McDowell

Braves part ways with pitching coach McDowell

ATLANTA -- Roger McDowell's 11-season tenure as the Braves' pitching coach ended on Friday, when he was informed the club would not exercise his option for the 2017 season.

"Roger is a terrific coach and an even better person," general manager John Coppolella said. "We wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future."

Veteran pitchers have lauded McDowell as a great pitching coach and many young pitchers have thrived under his tutelage. But as the Braves prepare to bring many of their top pitching prospects to Atlanta over the next few years, they determined they need a new voice.

The Braves will likely wait to name a manager before filling their pitching-coach void. Brian Snitker and Bud Black remain the top managerial candidates.

As Atlanta's pitching coach since 2006, McDowell has proven to be a tireless worker committed to doing whatever necessary to make the organization better. His intelligence and attention to detail have led some to believe he is capable of serving as a manager.

McDowell's mentor Dave Wallace just retired, creating a need for the Orioles to now find a pitching coach.

"It was a great 11-year experience and I enjoyed every minute," McDowell said. "I'm appreciative the Braves provided this opportunity and I'm very grateful that I had the chance to cut my teeth under Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox. I appreciate the friendships I have gained with my pitchers, other players and many different members of the organization."

Since being selected by Hall of Fame manager Cox to join Atlanta's staff, McDowell has provided a tough-love approach in an attempt to make his pitchers better both on and off the field. Kris Medlen and Mike Minor -- as well as Jair Jurrjens, when healthy -- were among the young starting pitchers who encountered success under this tutelage.

Some of the Braves' vaunted bullpens over the past few years were a product of McDowell's ability to quickly nurture the developments of Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty. Venters was a longtime Minor Leaguer with arm problems before he and O'Flaherty, who was claimed off waivers, became two of the game's top left-handed relievers.

McDowell also helped to revive and prolong the careers of veteran castoffs like Aaron Harang, Bud Norris and Jim Johnson, whose success over the past two seasons earned him a two-year contract extension on Sunday.

Julio Teheran and McDowell are a couple strong-willed individuals who have butted heads over the past few years. But after this duo worked together to make some mechanical adjustments during a disappointing 2015 season, Teheran returned this year and posted a 3.21 ERA that might have been better had he not dealt with some nagging ailments (infected thigh and upper back muscle strain).

While Mike Foltynewicz developed into a bona fide big leaguer by the end of this season, the inconsistencies and struggles of two other highly regarded prospects -- Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair -- led the Braves to be concerned about how Sean Newcomb and other prospects would fare on McDowell's watch.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.